Mantrix - Universal (Sub Records, Australia)


Pound Shop Alex Petridis
SUB (Australia)

Mantrix are a double-act from Melbourne, Australia who made their name through their live set, fusing organic and electronic sounds into a sound that’s more or less Australia’s best-kept musical secret. There’s a couple of bloody amazing things about this album. First, the production quality; secondly the ballsy oldskool energy running through it; and thirdly, samples that really *should* sound shit and clichéd actually work very well indeed. The opening track Levels kicks off with a bread-n-butter bassline before it takes off. There’s a fat, adorable midrange riff that keeps you hooked. There’s cut up high-end vocals swirling in the background that’ll have you thinking, all misty-eyed, about high-moments in trance’s history. Free Your Soul sounds so clear it’s like the music’s happening inside of your own head. Again we’re being dragged into the music by the midrange, and the smattering of new age-y vocals and samples is a goan delight – trust me, it doesn’t get cheesy. The central run to this track is staggering – the sounds layer and get excited all by themselves, the percussion gets tighter and more frantic, and the overall effect is extremely psychedelic. By which I mean extremely. And by which I also mean psychedelic. Armageddon features live guitar, all whipped up into a veritable frenzy. The live sound moulds well into the electronic and while it gets a tad too heavy for my whiteboy ears, the energy is unmistakeable. Psycarumba has no less than five guest musicians, performing brazilian percussion and vocals. The effect here is like dropping acid at Womad and hearing quality goa ringing in your ears all weekend: I don’t think I can name a psy track that’s got a stronger live-band-feel to it. Gaia takes a shift to the deeper, edgier side of things and the sound here reminds me a little of something Cosmosis might come up with when he’s in a bad mood. Universal Reflections is an utter cracker – the sound is simply vast, spreading right out in front of you. A vocoder gives it a sort of unnerving depth that’s balanced by the earthy percussion going on below. It’s the kind of track that won’t so much as make a dancefloor ignite: it’ll make a dancefloor spontaneously combust. The low-set midrange drives it along, keeping everything grounded before escalating it upwards and upwards. Alpha Beater, however, is the utter ripper here. A barking 303, an incredibly psychedelic set of bleeps and whistles, all underpinned by a driving bassline. And, seriously, it’s as good as The Infinity Project, as good as Cosmosis, as good as Doof, and it even has a movement and passion that should get the Posford-devotees glazing over like Easter buns. Rebirth is another belter – it has a deep, fin-de-ciecle feel about it with a whirlwind of dreamtime percussion, subtly-crafted electronic tickles and more energy than a gazillion duracells. Finally, the two parts of Spontaneous Existence give a thundering close to the album. Starting out chilled (and bloody good chill it is too), it goes through 4/4, breaks, before picking up the lysergic quotient nicely. All in all Universal is a f*ing amazing artist album. Psyreviews often bangs on about artist albums lacking direction, flow, or ideas – all three are in bountiful abundance here. There are some dazzling moments, some real blasts of emotional power, and some ideas and production that border genius. I simply can’t bang on about it enough: utterly brilliant.



Jon Kenobi

So uncivilised
samples sound interesting, a nice array of sounds


am on it! :Smile3:


Junior Members
little under one week to the release date.... the album has been getting some great response down here in oz.


Mantrix - Universal

Artist: Mantrix (Australia)
Title: Universal
Format: CD (jewel case)
Label: SUB (Australia)
Cat. #: SUB002CD
Distribution: Arabesque (worldwide) / Psy-Harmonics (Australia)
Date: June 2006

Track listing:

01. 08’22†Levels
02. 08’22†Free Your Soul
03. 06’50†Armageddon
04. 06’31†Psycorumba
05. 06’20†Gaia
06. 06’27†Universal Reflections
07. 06’56†Alpha Beater
08. 08’38†Rebirth
09. 02’44†Spontaneous Existence Part 1
10. 06’46†Spontaneous Existence Part 2

Streaming: (all tracks!)


Essential outback-saikodelic extreme groove electronica!

Psy-Harmonics’ sub-label SUB is out with their second release following the extremely cool Bus (Gus Till) album Morebusinesslinkyouthere released in late 2005. The Mantrix name might not ring any bells – it certainly didn’t with me. But after some research on my behalf after receiving this album, it appears this duo (Benjamin Last & Richard Hinkson) is very popular in their native Australia. Renowned for their spectacular live shows, they’ve been producing and performing for over a decade and have released tracks on a number of Australian psytrance/crossover compilations… And now they’ve compiled a bunch of their tracks onto this, their debut album Universal. Let’s dig deeper…

Let me take you thru the tracks…

#01: Levels
“The Mayan calendar system operates on several different levels. Everything that exists is in some way created or touched by the different cycles of the Mayan calendar. Our path is to climb this pyramid - consciousness wise. That’s the path of the universe. It’s all about the climb to higher and higher levels. And human beings will attain a cosmic consciousness and become citizens of the cosmos. People are really starting to feel that time is accelerating. Time is disappearing.†Hell yeah, this track rules! It takes exactly two seconds before you realize that this choon is gonna rock your fucking socks off! The thrilling, bouncy and squeaky old-school melody and the trippy samples spoken by Carl Johan Calleman… They all come together extremely well here. It totally works and this entire track is an instant flashback to 1996 – only with 2006 production! The native chanting and the trippy sitars is the icing on the cake - this is nothing short of amazing!

#02: Free Your Soul
“The world you see with your eyes is an illusion. The real world is of spirit! And emotions are your navigators. Emotions tell you all you need to know. Accept them! Bliss is here for you now if you will accept all things as part of it.†Next up is a true crossover hit! This is absolutely soaked in intense tribal percussion and dreamy female vocals by Marianella Kundalini… The ever evolving rhythm section is sprinkled with a heavy doze of trippy synth exploration, didgeridoos, chirping birds, native chanting and other world beat treats… Juno Reactor or Shpongle has nothing on this shiny gem… It’s just lovely!

#03: Armageddon
The next track takes things in a totally new direction… This is space rock! And with space rock, I mean spacious, out-of-this-world Ozric Tentacles-on-ketamine guitar-ridden space rock! Oh yes, this is a multitude of electric guitars in quantities even S.U.N. Project wouldn’t be able to handle! Armageddon is upon us! But fear not – this might sound like Skazi audio-devastation on paper, but it’s much, much more refined than Skazi… It’s immensely well-produced and very interesting for an old rocker like me, but somehow it doesn’t seem to drop my jaw as much as the previous two tracks… Also the fade-out ending seems weird. It’s cool and all, but it pales in comparison with some of the other tracks here…

#04: Psycorumba
On this track the Mantrix guys have invited all their friends to come into the studio and jam with them… And holy shit, what a jam fest it turned out to be… Tons and tons of percussion are all over the place creating a very intoxicating carnival atmosphere – the thick, pounding and trippy psytrance pads create a familiar ambience, and the fusion between live, tribal percussion and phat, melodic psytrance is a hit… This is like an extended version of Decoy vs. Juno Reactor vs. The New Orleans Steel Band vs. Safri Duo! Funky funk funk! Awesome!

#05: Gaia
“For the spirit of this land to rise. Freedom. Spirit. United we dance!†This next track is easily the most trancy thus far… The kick drum is harder than ever and the twirling, tweaked melodies are trippy as hell… Oh yes, this is a hard-hitting, gut-wrenching mean old monster of a night track! Extremely sharp and so incredibly well-defined… And totally smashing! Psy trance in its finest, purest form! DJs take notice – you *need* to drop this one during your most intense sets over the summer! Hell yes, this is stellar track!

#06: Universal Reflections
“Universal reflections!†And if you thought the last track was intense, just wait until this one penetrates your brain! This is an electro dirty bomb! It takes a little longer in getting there, but when it finally explodes it does so with an unsurpassed burst of energy of gargantuan dimensions… This is one of those constantly evolving and driving tracks that builds an incredible amount of tension – and when the climax is drawing near you’re closing to popping a vein in your forehead – and then BAM - you’re finally rewarded with a huge explosion that sends radiating shock waves thru the dancefloor… I mean, just listen to that last minute of pure, relentless bliss! It’s an audio orgasm! Cracking stuff!

#07: Alpha Beater
But fuck me, if it doesn’t get even more intense now! This is definitely the fastest, most intense track here… Multi-layered, multi-climactic and insanely trippy stuff that sends instant shivers down your spine! This is old school goa trance with nu-school production values and studio trix… Very reminiscent of the legendary UK masters as well as the best of the old melodic Israeli goa trance era… The tribal beats and the ethno touch just adds to the enjoyment – and this is another extremely well-produced piece of ear candy… The last minute does get a little cheesy though, but it’s still a lovely choon!

#08: Rebirth
Here’s another very epic tranced-up piece of sonic bliss… Ben hits the dulcimer like a madman and Uncle Robbie Rasta chants down Babylon! The driving force in this track is the finely knit pattern of atmospheric, floating, epic melodies seasoned with all kinds of subtle rhythms and ethno-tribal elements… Again the Juno Reactor link is evident and this is truly a majestic piece of crossover electronica… It’s simply gorgeous – but perhaps a little too epic and fluffy in certain passages… Don’t get me wrong, this would be a milestone track on virtually every album – but on this particular album, the masterpieces are hobnobbing. And sure enough, this is a VERY nice track – but there are even better tracks here…

#09: Spontaneous Existence Part 1
#10: Spontaneous Existence Part 2
“And the children of light shall cover the barren land with tall grass and trees bearing fruit. They shall build the old waste places. They shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. They shall be called Repairers of the Breach. Restorers of paths to dwell in.†Much like the role model Juno Reactor’s latest album Labyrinth, this album also has a two part track. Obviously they are connected, so I’m gonna review ‘em as one single track. And what a track this is! Holy Kylie! From the epic Raja Ram-flute ridden intro with bible quotes and floating, orchestral beauty – to the upbeat, tranced-beyond-comprehension middle bridge that makes it virtually impossible not to move… The big phat reverbs just grab you by the balls and swings you around manically and the tight electro stabs penetrates your mind, body and soul… It’s huge! This is what journey trance is all about! Fantastic!

This CD is as close to being a masterpiece as any CD I’ve reviewed for a long time. And it will make all your other CDs jealous because you’re gonna listen to it over and over and over and over again! An essential purchase for any fan of electronic music that crosses well over into a myriad of sub-genres… Epic, eclectic, trippy, gargantuan and totally amazing!

Trust me on this one – this is going to get HUGE and it *will* become a benchmark album that other musicians will hate themselves for not having produced!

Nuff said – get this or get left out!

Favourites: 1(!!!), 2(!), 4(!!), 5(!!!), 6(!!), 7(!), 8(!), 9 + 10(!!!)


External links:
Saiko Sounds:


Seriously - this is ground breaking stuff!

Unfortunately the first batch of retail copies had a major pressing error - so they all had to be recalled. The release date has been moved to 'early July' accordingly...

But it's definitely worth the wait... Trust me on this one... This album totally blew me away - and I listen to A LOT of albums... This one managed to stand out from the crowd though... It's amazing - and this is EXACTLY why I'll never get tired of psytrance. <---Those are big words I know... But it's true... This truly is an essential release! =D



Adverse camber
Forum Supporter
I think that's the first time I've felt wildly at odds with a Damion review.